Curating at the Lilly: Week Eleven

I’ve been beating the heat outside by enjoying the amply air-conditioned Reading Room at the Lilly and writing away.

I’m progressing very well. I’ve drafted over half of my labels and delivered my cart of exhibit items to Conservation. While I finish up my labels, the Conservation department will check the condition of and prep the materials for display. The way they manipulate manuscripts and books to sit in just the right position is like magic. For instance, they have developed virtually invisible but strong straps to hold down book pages to the right spread. But once they’ve set a book, it’s best if I don’t try to consult other pages for research or label-writing purposes and force them to painstakingly re-strap the book when I’m finished. Luckily, before I sent the items up to Conservation, I took photos of each piece of manuscript material, the pages of books I’d like to display, and the title-pages of each book. That way, I can just flip through the photo album on my phone rather than disturbing Conservation’s wonderful work if I need to recall details for my labels.

As I’ve written more labels, I feel as though I’ve gotten to know each item in my exhibit better and develop a greater appreciation for my diverse selection. I have not yet failed to find an intriguing backstory for each book and manuscript. Along the way, I have learned so much. My hope is that, through this exhibit, the Lilly’s visitors will get the opportunity to enjoy all the stories I’ve woven into this complex but wonderful web of connectivity to Sir Francis Bacon!

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